Azari & III @ The Hoxton, Friday April 13th

“If there’s a silver lining in Azari & III’s woefully belated hometown headlining gig, it’s that Toronto fans will get a much better show than they would’ve 10 months ago.

Since their self-titled debut was released in Europe last summer (and then re-released on UK major label Island Records in January), the four-piece electronic dance group has come into its own as a live act.

During a break from recording their sophomore album, producer Alphonse Alixander Lanza III and vocalist Cedric Gasaida (aka Starving Yet Full) say the band (which also includes Christian “Azari” Farley and Fritz Helder) has come a long way since the days of cramming into the Barn’s tiny DJ booth to perform for college kids with Britney blinders on.

“Going to Europe was good because we really had to get our crew together and sort out our shit in order to be able to get on a festival stage and play,” says Lanza.

“Improvisation is a big part of our set,” adds Gasaida. “It’s like we start having a silent dialogue about what we can do with each other.”

The turning point was a hedonistic concert at London’s XYO club last August. Everything seemed to come together after that. Now they can pack 1,000-capacity venues in Amsterdam and Berlin and count among their fans everyone “from hipsters to geeky weird guys who throw an Azari shirt overtop their business shirt and get pissed on pints,” says Lanza.

Despite their success overseas, they still feel like music industry transients. There are signs, though, that North Americans are coming around. They were nominated in the best electronic album category at this year’s Junos (the only nominee whose album you can’t buy on iTunes) and were warmly received by the industry at the Ottawa ceremony. They’re hoping to announce a North American deal this fall.

“We’ve grown into more of a monster,” Lanza says when asked about the direction of the next record. “We have this big, throbbing Metallica sound. The entity is now bigger than all of us. Before, it was a little more cozy; this one is thundering, spacious and cerebral. It’s an assault on the mind and body.

“We’re chasing the dragon further down.””

Source: NOW Magazine